Minibuses ply hardly on 10pc of 446 approved routes in Karachi

KARACHI: Notwithstanding the tall claims of Sindh transport department, public transport sector in Karachi is in shambles and minibuses run hardly on 10percent of the 446 approved bus routes in the port city.

According to the Transport and Mass Transit Department, Government of Sindh, there are 446 classified bus routes; however, as per independent sources hardly 10 percent of these bus routes are functional. It is the sweet will of the private bus runners to ply their minibuses on the routes for which they have granted route permits or not. This is why the transporters shift their minibuses to very crowded routes without even formal permission of the transport department to shift their minibuses to other routes.

The Transport and Mass Transit Department is considered as one of the most corrupt and inefficient departments of Sindh government. This department is even not able to force the private transporters to ply their buses as per the route permits issued to them. When about 90percet approved bus routes do not see any minibuses running on them, the performance of the transport department certainly comes under the shadows of doubt.

Though the notorious Chingchies are no more seen in the city, but they are replaced by big rickshaws that run on all major roads of the city. People travel in these rickshaws because minibuses do not ply in their localities despite the fact that minibus routes are approved in many of these localities and ample route permits also issued for them, but the mighty transporter mafia does not run minibuses on these routes.

It is said that the provincial government authorities have failed to issue new bus route permits in Karachi during last two decades as required catering the needs of the fast-sprawling mega city. There is no research in the transport department regarding the growing commuting needs in the port city and it lacks capacity, vision and commitment to solve the problems of Karachi commuters.

It has been said for long that the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is the backbone of public transport system in Karachi, but the government is not able to revive or reactivate the KCR after necessary repairs. It is said that now the KCR would be revived under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) umbrella, but the inner sources are not optimistic in this regard. They argue that the Sindh government faces huge problems even in removing the encroachments from the KCR track.

Regarding the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System, there is only hope of the Green BRT that is being funded by the federal government, while the other BRT plans as announced by the provincial government would take many decades before their spadework begins.

The transport department of Sindh needs to show its assertiveness to improve the public transport sector in Karachi. It should begin its presence felt by implementing official bus colour code for all public transport buses and minibuses that ply on the approved routes. Presently, buses and minibuses painted with any colour are allowed to ply on the approved routes’ however, it is suggested that all public transport buses should be painted with bright red colour.

There should be official uniform of bus drivers and conductors and commuters should be issued bus tickets after charging fare from them. Karachi is the only mega city of the world in which public transport buses and minibuses do not give bus tickets to commuters after getting fair from them. It also needs to ban all narrow-bodied minibuses and coaches and only wide-bodied buses should be allowed to ply on the approved routes of the city.

However, these things seem impossible considering the corruption-marred Sindh transport department, unless it is purged from the notorious corrupt and hopelessly incompetent officers and run through young and capable professionals who are committed to revamp the public transport sector in Karachi, the revenue engine of Sindh and whole Pakistan.

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